Johan is a marriage counsellor and evangelist with a BA from the University of South Africa and an MA from Abilene Christian University.
This is my Continent-my place.
First of all I love Africa because this is my place in the world, I was born here and I have lived here most of my life. My paternal Grandfather immigrated to South Africa from Holland to work on the railroad. He did not come to steal from Africa but to share his skill and enjoy a better life, and so I was born here during the Second World War while my Dad was in Egypt with the South African Forces. On my Mother’s side my French Huguenot forefathers came to escape persecution from the Roman Catholic Church in France and then left the Cape to become part of the “Great Trek” into the interior, again on a quest for freedom from the British rule in the Cape of Good Hope. They worked hard to make this a better country for all. Yes they fought its wars and defended what they thought was right, and would do so again. Even in hindsight I believe they would done much the same.
The Millions of people and their shared Africanism:
But I also love Africa because of its many people; their determined desire and will to survive, their creativeness, their love for life, their music, dance and art, their laughter and their joy. As a South African I have traveled to the seven countries in the south. The rest of Africa is vast (you can fit the USA, China and Europe into Africa and have some space to spare) with many countries and thousands of tribes and languages. I have been privileged to meet some from those countries far to the north as I taught at the African Christian College in Swaziland and I have enjoyed conversations with them and times of sharing and learning. With them I share a common Africanism.
The faith:of the people:
It is also their love for God that binds me to many million others in this continent. Every town in our country seems to have a church spire reaching up into the heavens, but more than that Africa has a people who for many years have believed in God in their hearts. They worshiped God in the way they were led to do so and many still do so today. Often faith and worship may seem to be primitive and different to those who do not believe in the spiritual world, but to many it gives direction and hope. Even today in our modern often atheistic world when you travel on a Sunday you will see many people on their way to worship, often carrying a Bible in their hand. I share a belief in God and his Son with so many..
A Continent of great contrasts:
Another reason that I love Africa is because of its contrasts; its huge white desert sand that stand in sharp contrasts with its green and humid jungles; its high mountains reaching into the blue skies towering over its grassy plains where Zebra and Wildebeest graze. As a continent it straddles the equator and so has tropical, sub tropical and mid latitude climates to enjoy or endure. Here we see poor peasants tilling their maize or rice patches as subsistence farmers living from season to season. In other areas are the mega farmers producing food on a large scale for their and other nations with their large tractors and big harvesters. Large bustling cities surrounded by highways, harbours and airports are again surrounded by a great vastness of open spaces.
The silence of the plains and bush veldt and the call of a lonely Fish Eagle stand in strong contrast with the shout from the bustling market place and the noisy hum of the busy highways. A small shopkeeper in Mkuzi, Kwazulu Natal supplies the shopping needs of her rural village while the new large shopping malls do the same for those who live in the suburbs of the great cities. Many walk to their shop while others ride in their 4x4’s that may of may not ever see a really wild road. But then sometimes even urban roads seem to need a high clearance vehicle because of the potholes. Than is why small trucks and double cabs are so common.
The opportunities and challenges:
Soccer fields with no grass and tree stumps for goal posts have the potential to produce tomorrows champions as certainly as do the huge modern stadiums that hosted the World Cup in 2010. In a dusty street in many a township a great game of cricket is being played with a plank and a cardboard box. Who knows what future Makaya Nitini, Maria Mutola, Edith Masai or Wilson Kipsang is waiting to be discovered there. It is a continent of great opportunity, but also of great disadvantages.
The magic of being who you are:
It is often in the very poor areas where women walk down to the river to fetch water in buckets carried on their heads or to the forests to collect wood where one hears laughter. In the bustling cities, the monuments to western civilization, where one notices people rushing along to work with seemingly little to smile about. The poor dream of a better life and look with envy at the rich who rush past on their two week break to find peace and quiet for just a little while. This is the paradox of Africa that I love, full of contrasts and contradictions. Bold, brash, energetic and often un-spoilt. Sometimes uncertain of what it wants to be but going about its business as usual, as it has for centuries. Don’t try to make it what it is not!
The writers of the book "Africa in World History from prehistory to the present",(Gilbert and Reynolds) say it well in their concluding paragraph of their excellent book "Like other histories, it chronicles the struggles of a rich and diverse population to improve their lives and define their own destiny".
“Abantwana be Africa” A Zulu term suggesting we are children of Africa, “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica”- God Bless Africa!